Email Marketing: The Power of “Oops”

by Matt Sullivan on June 13, 2013

Dan Zarrella of HubSpot once asked people about email marketing, with one question being centered around what had proven effective in the past. I immediately thought of the “Oops” campaigns that I used to run.

The premise was simple: send an email on Day 1 (we’ll say Monday), then re-send the email to everyone that hadn’t opened the email or hadn’t clicked-through on Tuesday. But, now the subject line and first section of content was simply say “Oops… we made a mistake”.

Email Marketing Oops

The “mistake” was usually minor: some people reported a link not working correctly, our form submit button on the landing page was missing, etc. Essentially, a slip that I’m sure happens to everyone at some point or that could easily be attributed to “computer problems”. We didn’t kill any kittens here.

In reality, there never was a problem. But, changing the subject line to “Opps… we made a mistake!” and putting the call-to-action link in the explanation did something surprising… it drove open-rates and click-thru through the roof!
Granted, you can’t consistently use this tactic as it admits a mistake, and you don’t want to appear like you’re constantly screwing-up. In our case, we decided that once a quarter was the maximum times we would use it, and that frequency seemed to work.This method came about after a legitimate mistake, where we the landing page didn’t actually exist at the time of our initial send. When all the metrics spiked on the re-send, we thought we had something… and all the tests proved us right.


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